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Southall v. Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center Authority

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

September 19, 2017

MERCUTIO TERRELL SOUTHALL, SR., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BIRMINGHAM JEFFERSON CONVENTION CENTER AUTHORITY, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF OPINION

          L. Scott Coogler United States Distant Judge

         I. Introduction

         Before the Court are Motions to Dismiss, filed by the three defendants, Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center Authority (“BJCCA”) (doc. 27), Donald J. Trump for President Inc. (“the Trump Campaign”) (doc. 39), and City of Birmingham (“the City”) (doc. 43). The issues raised in Defendants' Motions have been fully briefed by all parties and are now ripe for decision. For the reasons stated below, all Motions to Dismiss are due to be GRANTED.

         II. Background

         A. Procedural History

         Plaintiffs Mercutio Terrell Southall, Sr. (“Southall”), and Carlos Montez Chaverst, Jr. (“Chaverst”) brought this action alleging deprivation of constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; state law premises liability and breach of contract offenses; and violations of Alabama Code § 11-47-190. Plaintiffs filed this action against Defendants on October 17, 2016 (doc. 1). Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint on November 22, 2016 (doc. 9). They then submitted a Second Amended Complaint on December 22, 2016 (doc. 23). On January 11, 2017, Defendant BJCCA filed its Motion to Dismiss (doc. 27). The Trump Campaign filed a Motion to Dismiss on March 6, 2017 (doc. 39). The City of Birmingham filed its Motion to Dismiss (doc. 43) on March 17, 2017.

         B. Facts [1]

         In November 2015, Southall and Chaverst obtained free tickets from an online vendor to attend the Donald J. Trump for President Campaign rally held at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center (“BJCC”). Prior to attending the rally, on November 18, 2015, Chaverst also obtained a municipal permit for “Public Demonstration of Public Right of Way” for the purpose of protesting the rally.

         On November 21, 2015, Southall and Chaverst attended the Campaign Rally at the BJCC. Before the event began, Southall entered the building security area, just outside main BJCC auditorium, with a third party. As Southall and the third party proceeded to enter the BJCC auditorium, they noticed several Birmingham Police Officers who appeared to recognize them. Around the time President Trump walked onto the stage, Chaverst entered the BJCC, which by that time was filled with nearly 2, 000 attendees, and met up with Southall and the third party. Chaverst then raised his cellular phone to record a video of the event. While his phone was raised, as part of the protest effort, Chaverst stated, “we're at the Donald Trump rally, here in Birmingham, Alabama, and we want to inform Donald Trump he's not welcome here. We need to dump the Trump.” (Doc. 23 at 15 ¶44.) At that time, an unidentified man slapped the cellular phone out of Chaverst's hand. There was a verbal exchange; then Southall intervened and ended the scuffle.

         Southall then guided Chaverst and the third party through the crowd. The crowd began to become aggressive and yelled racial slurs and other obscenities. Chaverst and Southall were separated by the pushing and kicking of the crowd. An attendee of the rally blocked their paths. Pushing ensued and Southall was knocked to the ground. He was kicked, choked, punched, and scratched while racial slurs were being yelled at him by unidentified members of the crowd. Police arrived, attempted to stop the incident and guided Chaverst and Southall from the rally. During the police escort from the rally, now President Trump shouted, “Get him the hell out of here, ” as well as other unspecified statements. (Doc. 23 at 19 ¶ 60.)

         III. Standard

         All three Defendants, BJCCA, the City, and the Trump Campaign, move to dismiss under Federal Rule Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. To survive a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must generally satisfy the pleading requirements in Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. Rule 8 requires a pleading to contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “Rule 8 marks a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era, but it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-679 (2009). Instead, “[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 678 (internal quotations omitted). Iqbal establishes a two-step process for evaluating a complaint. First, the Court must “begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. at 679. Second, “[w]hen there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id. Factual allegations in a complaint need not be detailed, but they “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). In reviewing the plaintiff's complaint, the Court must “draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

         A party need not specifically plead each element in his or her cause of action, but the pleading must contain “enough information regarding the material elements of a cause of action to support recovery under some viable legal theory.” Am. Fed'n of Labor & Cong. of Indus. Orgs. v. City of Miami, Fla., 637 F.3d 1178, 1186 (11th Cir. 2011). Ultimately, the Court must be able to draw a reasonable inference from the facts that the other party is liable. Reese v. Ellis, Painter, Ratterree & Adams, LLP, 678 F.3d 1211, 1215 (11th Cir. 2012). Regardless, the Court must construe pleadings broadly and resolve inferences in the nonmoving party's favor. Levine v. World Fin. Network Nat'l Bank, 437 F.3d 1118, 1120 (11th Cir. 2006).

         IV. ...


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